Can Babies Save Toys ‘R’ Us?

Two days ago, Toys ‘R’ Us filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection – mere weeks ahead of the critical holiday season – to restructure amid crippling debt, declining sales and relentless competition from retail powerhouses.
In recent years, Toys “R” Us has spent hundreds of million of dollars on interest expenses, which left few resources to fund its e-commerce website. By contrast, Amazon and Walmart dominate e-commerce due to a robust online presence, lower costs and fast home delivery.

Chief Executive David Brandon cited the immediate need for Toys ‘R’ Us to build inventory for the holiday season, which accounts for 40% of annual revenue.The retailer will also overhaul its web presence, digital customer loyalty program, ship-from-store capabilities and delivery time.

baby picture
Baby products as a competitive strength : Recent sales figures suggest Toys ‘R’ Us has a strategic advantage in the baby products (vs. toys) category.


Babies ‘R’ Us brand to play a bigger role

Last year, baby gear accounted for 36% of Toys ‘R’ Us’ total U.S. revenue, so this category represents the company’s biggest share of domestic product sales. These results suggest baby products are the brand’s strength and core differentiator. As competitors Amazon and Walmart grow their market share in the toy category, Toys ‘R’ Us could benefit by focusing on baby products.

As such, Toys ‘R’ Us’ turnaround strategy will also involve investing $277 million from 2018 through 2021 to convert existing locations into side-by-side storefronts dedicated to toys and the Babies ‘R’ Us brand, as profits suffered in locations where Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us operate separately.

Emerging trends in the baby category

The baby products category has an estimated value of $30 billion industry and major recent category trends include:[v]

  • E-commerce share increase:

    Online retail gained share points to account for more than 20% of baby product sales; Toys ‘R’ Us’ competitors Walmart, Target and Amazon all earned e-commerce share gains. This means Toys ‘R’ Us needs to focus more on its online business to avoid losing any more market share to online rivals.

  • Children in home don’t boost sales:

    Surprisingly, having children in the home does not improve consumers’ odds of purchasing baby products, as 58% of buyers were households without children. This is good news, as Toys ‘R’ Us can expand its marketing campaigns to target doting grandparents, baby registries, relatives and friends of families with children – especially leading up to the holidays.

Child-free households shop for babies, too : A surprising number of baby product consumers include grandparents, siblings and friends, as shown by this chart from TABS Analytics.


Shopping behavior within the baby category

To achieve a competitive advantage with baby products, Toys ‘R’ Us must understand the differences in shopping patterns within this category.

Overall, online retailers – including,, and – earned a 2% increase in share of mentions in most baby segments; meanwhile, specialty outlets, like Babies “R” Us, Toys “R” Us and department stores decreased. This means offering a robust, efficient online shopping experience must be a priority for Toys ‘R’ Us to keep up with the new retail reality that shoppers like to research products, compare prices and shop online.

Some distinctions within the baby category include big box and discounter rivals’ strengths. For instance, among diaper products, online purchasing share grew 2 percentage points, up to 22% in 2016. gained 1.1 percentage points in diaper sales at and specialty dropped overall by 2.3 percentage points with the biggest drop at Babies ‘R’ Us. Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us must consider shoppers’ needs: they may shop online because they don’t want to take their infant to the store, wait in line and carry big, bulky boxes of diapers to their car. Again, the e-commerce strategy must be a priority. While, it’s easier for people to buy diapers on a trip to the supermarket, it’s harder to draw them to speciality stores just for baby products. Now, were this to be moved online, things can get so much more convenient for targeted shoppers.

However, among baby needs products, which include shampoo, lotion, soap, powder and ointments, online sales grew 2.8 percentage points since 2016. Notable growth in this segment also took place among discount grocery retailers like Aldi and Save-a-lot. Toys ‘R’ Us should consider that value pricing and online convenience may be priorities for consumers of these types of baby products. What can set them apart are exclusive toy franchisee lines and novelty toy collabs that venture beyond the category to all baby-focused merchandise.


Looking beyond the domestic market for growth : This year, Toys ‘R’ Us announced it would open more stores in China to take advantage of conditions that align with the retailer’s target market.

Capitalizing on a baby boom

Following yesterday’s announcement, Toys ‘R’ Us’ Canadian subsidiary announced it also plans to seek protection. However, the company’s other foreign operations, including more than 250 licensed stores and joint ventures in Asia, are not part of the Chapter 11 filing.

Earlier this year Toys ‘R’ Us invested in more physical stores in China and e-commerce operations, as the country’s market conditions look favorable. For instance, China eliminated its one-child policy, so more babies could mean more demand and sales for Toys ‘R’ Us’ baby products. In addition, the country has nearly half a billion middle-class consumers who are increasingly affluent, tech-savvy and willing to buy safe, quality products made overseas, making these shoppers ideal targets for the retailer’s omnichannel operations.

Wherever Toys ‘R’ Us operates in the world, if it focuses on the baby products market, the company must adapt to these emerging trends and shopping behaviors to better serve consumers and remain relevant in this fierce retail market.

Why Visual Merchandising Matters More Than Ever

BOOM! That’s how immediate  the impact of visual merchandising is on retail shoppers – and why effective visuals are a strategic asset in omnichannel retail. Visual merchandising presents a retailer’s physical store or e-commerce website in an enticing way to attract customers. Yet the objective isn’t just to look alluring – it’s to fuel retail purchases.

Let’s look at how timeless design principles impact shopper psychology and drive traffic and sales both in stores and online.

Visuals get ‘all up in your face’

In our age of digital and social media, visuals matter because:

  •    The average person’s attention span is 8 seconds or less – which, remarkably, is shorter than the attention span of a goldfish
  •    65% of individuals say they’re visual learners
  •    Visuals increase message retention by 42%

Today, visual merchandising blends artistry and data science, helping retailers get their message across faster and with greater impact.

Visual merchandising in the age of omnichannel

Now that shoppers around the world expect omnichannel service, let’s examine how the following 5 classic elements of visual merchandising apply as much to old-school brick and mortar stores as they do to today’s trendiest e-commerce websites.

  1. Architecture: The framework for retail sales

Regardless of sales channel, a well-designed architecture makes the store inviting so shoppers feel welcome and excited to explore the store or website. (And spend money.) A physical store’s architecture includes visual elements like the floor layout, the range of colors of the décor, and the backdrop, including three-dimensional window displays, shelf displays, and mannequins.


“Online display banners act as sumptuous magazine advertorials,encouraging shoppers to search, scroll, browse and buy”


E-commerce architecture also requires a thoughtful layout and clear signage to guide shoppers throughout the website. Retailers use a complementary color scheme to please the eye and cast models who fit their brand persona. Nowadays online product cards are on par with editorials, using captivating color schemes and product descriptions that harmoniously align with a singular brand language to drive sales.

  1. Narrative: The store becomes the story

Visual merchandising intrigues customers with brand storytelling to transform a shop into an exciting destination that inspires and entices shoppers. The merchandiser decides on the theme – the look and feel – of a store, then evokes a desired effect through the visual displays. An effective in-store narrative sparks customers’ imagination with emotional impact, brand personality, and store ambiance. The focal point may include a hero – such as a high-impact collection of bold new items or an elaborate holiday display that nudges shoppers toward a purchase.

Tomdixon products in display
Narratives distinguish brands: The narrative Tom Dixon reflects the designer’s commitment to creating modern, innovative and stylish pieces.


Online storytelling through visual merchandising also involves a logical narrative flow that guides customers through the online shopping journey so it’s compelling, effortless and smooth (and shoppers don’t wander in different directions on the website. Regardless of channel, the narrative must reflect a consistent brand identity and customer-centric care from when shoppers enter the store or site to when they complete a purchase.

  1. Visibility: What’s seen is sold

In-store and online, visibility encourages retailers to feature items that align with a unique narrative and authentic brand image, while helping shoppers easily and quickly find the items they desire. The principle of visibility prioritizes the products retailers push the most, whether the items are high margin or exclusive enough to drive loyalty, word of mouth and social sharing. Online, the e-commerce information architecture and sitemap flow help retailers prominently showcase the products that are most likely to sell to prevent the items from being buried deep in the e-commerce site. Data analytics help merchandisers know exactly which products are most popular and trending, influencing the items they make most visible, including which color palettes, fabrics and cuts to make most visible to wow shoppers all the way to the checkout page.

  1. White space: Give shoppers room to breathe

Few customers enjoy navigating through a store crammed with excessive merchandise. By contrast, white space can help a shopper relax and enjoy the store atmosphere. White space encourages merchandisers to emphasize products that relate to their overarching theme by using innocuous brand elements. Merchandisers exercise restraint to ensure uncluttered beauty so the retail narrative shines through clearly.

Tinker watches display
White space creates uncluttered beauty: The use of white space reflects millennials’ desire for minimalism and emphasizes the quality of each product.

Using sufficient negative space is essential online, making the shopping experience easy on the eyes, chaos-free and pleasant by reflecting understated beauty and calm confidence.

  1. Balance: Bringing the elements together in harmony

Successful visual merchandising in stores and online address consumers’ needs (such as quality, variety and sensory appeal, as well as the trust that comes from online product reviews) and inspire their wants (to feel attractive, confident and hopeful).

Both in-store and online, merchandisers must give attention to merchandise and communication cues. They need to showcase sufficient product variety while remaining consistent with the core brand theme, finding a happy medium to neither overwhelm nor disengage in-store shoppers.

Timeless tips boost omnichannel sales

In the age of speed, the window dressing of visual merchandising is neither fluffy nor trivial – it is a critical business asset that drives retail conversions in stores and on e-commerce websites. Given shoppers’ extremely short attention span, merchandising professionals express the retailer’s intended message with thoughtful, consistent visual cues across retail touchpoints. Applying classic visual merchandising principles can help retailers improve their omnichannel excellence, and increase in-store and e-commerce sales.

We can help you with Assortment Intelligence to make faster, data-backed merchandising decisions while you steer your business with innovative ventures. Contact us  for more information.

[i] Reed, Gabrielle. Why Visuals Matter for Engaging Millennial Audiences. December 30, 2016.


5 Things You Need to Know About the New Mobile Shopify App

If you think your brand’s reputation speaks for itself, that you can rely on traditional marketing strategies and neglect the burgeoning world of mobile shopping, you’re dreaming. Shopify may be the biggest thing to happen to retail since online shopping and credit cards. The new mobile Shopify app can supercharge your sales. Think it’s not for you? Think again. Continue reading “5 Things You Need to Know About the New Mobile Shopify App”

Model vs. Mannequin: Which Produces More Sales?

A model can make even a lackluster piece of clothing look gorgeous by highlighting its silhouette, showing how the garment fits with other pieces, and encouraging an aspirational approach to buying. Of course, almost no one can afford the best models, and few small business owners can afford professionals. This leaves most businesses to choose between mannequins (or other displays, such as fancy hangers) and amateur or part-time models. Continue reading “Model vs. Mannequin: Which Produces More Sales?”

9 Retail Sales Strategies You Can’t Be Without

In any business, strategy is often the difference between a soaring success and a futile effort to connect with the customers you crave. However, with its continuing evolution and increasing competition in recent years, the eCommerce space might be even more reliant on the strength of retail sales strategies in order to capture business.

After all, the way you price, present and market your online products defines the way in which consumers perceive the value you offer and guides their decision to make a purchase or wait for one of your competitors to scoop up the opportunity.

The Pricing Is Right

The most obvious obstacle standing in the way of more sales is often the pricing. Customers are rightfully discerning of how they spend their hard-earned money, and it’s up to you to decide how best to convince them that your product is worth a try. Here are a few must-have pricing strategies you should be using to entice customers.

  • Loss-leader pricing: Selling your product below market value may initially seem like a no-win scenario. Yet, conventional wisdom isn’t always useful when it comes to the sales game. This approach, known as loss-leader pricing, opens up the potential for future marketing to customers and presents the chance to boost the average revenue per user, encouraging customers to add more items to their carts. (Find out how you can automate this process.)
  • Bundle pricing: One of the most widely used pricing formats, this one simply relies on grouping related items together to jointly persuade customers to make a purchase. By combining multiple products into a simple bundle, you’re able to streamline the decision to buy and create the perception of increased collective value.
  • Personalized pricing: Because of all the data out there, you may very well be able todetermine optimal prices for each specific user. Using a number of different factors, this system creates a real-time understanding of a customer’s purchase history, product searches and customer loyalty. Personalized pricing is often best employed with regular customers or in concert with newly available products.

Offers They Can’t Refuse

Though the pricing associated with a specific product could ultimately make or break a potential purchase, don’t forget to finetune the offers themselves. How you present a product to consumers can be just as instrumental in closing a purchase as pricing. So let’s review some tips you can incorporate into your product offers as soon as possible.

  • Free shipping: Companies like Amazon have set the tone within the industry, and now customers all but expect free shipping to be on the table. Perhaps it’s a blanket offer, or it might be one that only applies when users hit a certain minimum purchase price. Regardless, shipping options like this one are among the biggest incentives to buy from one site over another. It’s not an area that your business can afford to ignore.
  • Featured products: When you present too many options to consumers, the result can overwhelm them to the point that a purchase decision actually becomes more difficult to achieve. By focusing in on just a single product on your homepage, you’ll have more space to highlight its benefits and be able to more successfully guide consumers through to checkout.
  • Urgent offer: There’s a reason that so many retailers rely on impulse purchases to boost their bottom line. No matter what your product is, urgency sells. The very fact that a limited-time offer might slip past consumers is enough to drive sales up, especially if you have done your homework from a marketing and pricing standpoint. Act now to make this technique part of your regular strategy.

Revisit the Marketing

Long before customers can ever even be presented with your products (no matter the pricing), you must first establish a sense of trust and confidence with them. Customer relationships have to start somewhere, and luckily, several key strategies can help you boost awareness and spread word about your business and the products you provide.

  • Customer connections: Although social media should be a key part of your marketing efforts, it’s even more essential that all of your communications with customers centers on engaging them in a conversation. Today’s consumers are too savvy for cold sales pitches to remain effective. Get to know your customers, and hone in on the benefits your products can offer them.
  • The omnichannel approach: Mobile technology has necessitated the importance of a more multifaceted way to tackle your marketing. Tapping into the current omnichannel philosophy, you can unite your desktop website, mobile-optimized site, mobile application and other venues customers use to engage with your business. The possibilities for boosting sales and cross-promoting are limitless.
  • Content marketing: We can’t say enough about the advantages of implementing content marketing into your business. The internet is so often used as a free source of information that creating blogs, whitepapers, ebooks, videos and endless other forms of content is undoubtedly one of the best ways to hook consumers and keep them with you for the long haul.

For more details about how you can tailor your retail sales approach to optimize the success and reach of your business, check out our eBook, “A Comprehensive Guide to Competitive Online Retail Pricing Strategies.”

Retail pricing ebook CTA

The Best Times to Use Free Shipping to Increase Online Retail Sales

For obvious reasons, consumers are naturally drawn to any way in which they can save some of their hard-earned cash. So it stands to reason that free shipping has become such a popular feature to promote eCommerce sites. In addition to the built-in appeal of giving customers the chance to cut down their purchase total, such a tactic has a tremendous impact on customer service and, in many instances, may directly lead to the formation of long-term customer relationships. However, like any marketing tool, free shipping delivers the best results when used strategically to accent your business.

Continue reading “The Best Times to Use Free Shipping to Increase Online Retail Sales”

Of Dreams & Diamonds…

There’s looks and then there’s looks. The former makes you feel happy or sad or loved or disappointed. And the latter make you the centre of attention, period. Looks are the brainchild of luxury. And what better place to explain luxury than on the Red Carpet at one of the most glamorous events in our culture- Festival de Cannes!

At IntelligenceNODE, we have been studying looks at various events as a part of our discussion on trends. And the Red Carpet at Cannes is as larger than life as it gets. With the bold and the beautiful stepping out in their summer best, we noticed some trends popping out, subtly of course.

Maybe that is the way to go this summer! Or not. These trends include pastel tones, minimalist looks and clear fabrics. And of course brands. But there is one trend that is emerging and surpassing the others. Diamonds!

Not too much on one person. But then one diamond accessory from Chopard or Bulgari is statement enough, isn’t it?

Female actor Julianne Moore has been wowing with exquisite jewellery on the Red Carpet from day 1.

Continue reading “Of Dreams & Diamonds…”

6 Fashion bags to Follow This Season for Retailers

Branded bags and quality luggage has arrived! Now is the time when every little detail- from a dainty hairpin to the right bag is vital to look modern. With the growing influence of fashion consciousness and rising expendable incomes, bags have become a status symbol.

The global luggage and leather goods industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.5% during 2014-2019. The total retail sales value of the Indian luggage market alone is forecast to be about 1.87 billion U.S. dollars in 2015.

This shows just how much evolution the modern consumer has gone through, in terms of international travel, economic growth and industrial innovation. At IntelligenceNODE, we have the privilege of following popular trends, leading us to comprehend popular consumer behavior. And as a retailer, we think that these insights will be very useful to you.

We generally come across 4 main types of “bag people…”

Continue reading “6 Fashion bags to Follow This Season for Retailers”

Valentine’s Day: Why Romance Is A Blessing For Retailers?

The splashes of red and romance in the air- Valentine’s Day is when all and sundry capitalize on love. Love is the music of the soul- at least that is what numerous ads will have us believe. 14 February may fall on any day of the week; but we are prepared for it, even before the month of February begins.

At IntelligenceNODE, we have been looking at the various ways that love is built up into the best commodity there is. And why not! Valentine’s Day is an opportunity for you, the retailer, to gift the carefully crafted dreams of the people, by the people and for the people, to them.

We realize that some of the best deals, the whole year round, are on offer in preparation for or on Valentine’s. To cite an example, this year, the city of Newark sold 100 vacant lots for just $1,000 to couples, with the condition that each couple must build a home on its lot within 18 months and become full-time occupants. We think this was a great deal! And an amazing way to build a community, augment the job market, spread some more love…



Consumers are in the zone these days, where experimenting with different products and ideas has become their new way of life. When it comes to gifting that ‘special someone,’ there is no holding back. Consumers are prepared to buy on impulse and at the last minute. The huge rise of mobile usage and online shopping means that mobile increasingly plays a key role in the path to purchase.

Data collected from a random sample of 500 million online shopping experiences showed that retailers gained up to $35.3 million in incremental revenue and experienced an 11% improvement in average order value the week leading up to Valentine’s Day. Total conversions also increased by 24%. All this circa 2013.It has only increased now!

After all, If the Indian Online Retailer Myntra can contemplate going exclusively mobile…

The trend has been mobile was winning. Now it has WON.

-Eric Schmidt, Google


Get personal. Get real. Get recognized. These words seem to be the new mantra. We find that people like to see and feel real- not larger than life- real. And marketers are getting this too. A lot of brands have done just that. Engaging their consumers through the social media- marketers have successfully created product stories.

Be it a cool video series like GAP’s new campaign, where the brand has teamed with The Daniels on GAP’s first Instagram micro-series as part of its Spring “Dress Normal” campaign. Or Hallmark’s #PutYourHeartToPaper Campaign which already has a couple of million views! These ads ensure that conversions happen- online and offline.


Valentine’s Day happens to be one of those holidays tied to emotions. So an element of surprise and generosity are the most important aspects that retailers need to keep in mind while designing their marketing strategies.

Creating an amazing and innovative omni -channel experience is the major target for retailers worldwide, on any given day. But even more so on Valentine’s. And this works online as well as in store. In one example, BloomSnap, a feature found on the online flower marketplace BloomNation, allows customers to see the bouquet of flowers they purchased in the form of a photo sent directly from the florist before the bouquet is shipped.



Valentine’s Day is all about love. But these insights we have come across are for the daily as well we think. As a retailer, you are involved in the amazing business of making sure that love is tangible. After all, who needs cupid when we have you? At IntelligenceNODE, we hope to honor this connection through our link with you!